Active Travel Schemes to deliver improved cycling and walking infrastructure on Upper Bristol Road and Beckford Road are the first of many strategic routes, say Lib Dems.
Cabinet members have signed off the two schemes to go ahead to the ‘Traffic Regulation Order’ stage and have pledged to work closely with residents and commuters to design further schemes.
B&NES Lib Dems are committed to delivering sustainable transport, cutting carbon emissions and supporting public health.
The Active Travel Fund aims to reallocate road space and build long-term walking and cycling habits, to help improve health and air quality and tackle congestion and carbon emissions.
The government has said that half of all journeys will have to be made via active travel means by 2030, as part of our efforts to tackle the climate emergency.
Councillor Sarah Warren, Cabinet member for Climate and Sustainable Travel, said:
“B&NES has declared a climate emergency and set a goal of reducing emissions to zero by 2030. 29% of carbon in B&NES comes from land transport. To reduce emissions, we all need to drive less.
“The biggest impediment to taking up cycling is perceived danger, and we are going to change that in Bath and North East Somerset, starting with the Upper Bristol and Beckford Roads.
“These initial schemes are a small part of a bigger vision of a better future for the whole district and to benefit all residents, by providing the necessary infrastructure at a time when the technology to make light work of local hills is reaching maturity and becoming steadily more affordable.
“We have listened to residents and made improvements. We will monitor these schemes’ success, and learn from how they work in practice, to inform similar decisions in future. We do not intend to join the ranks of Councils removing cycle lanes and wasting taxpayers’ money.
“In the coming months, we intend to work closely with residents and commuters to codesign strategic routes and schemes that are the best that we can provide for all, both those who cycle, and those who don’t (yet).”
Councillor Manda Rigby, Cabinet member for Transport, added:
“It is incredibly important that these first Active Travel Schemes are seen to work, not least for the future active travel plans we will want to bring forward.
“We need to share our cramped road infrastructure acknowledging our hierarchy of travel and placing walking and cycling at the top. We have done so by reacting quickly to money the government has on offer, then amending during the consultation period.
“I welcome the fact that we have fully demonstrated that we are a listening council and have amended the schemes after receiving the consultation input from so many of our residents.”
Councillor Richard Samuel, Cabinet member for Economic Development and Resources, commented:
“I believe what is now before us offers the best mix of achievability and value for money. It’s worth noting that all of the money provided by WECA is to be spent this year and in addition I have agreed that this budget should be topped up by the council to enable more to be done.
“In total the council is working on £3.5m of cycle infrastructure schemes covering 22 different proposals. This represents many kilometres of dedicated safe cycle and walking routes across Bath and North East Somerset.
“It may not be enough for some, but I think it shows that we are wholly committed to improving the opportunities for local people to use modes of travel other than the private car.”
Councillor Tom Davies, Cabinet member for Housing, said:
“I can’t help but get personal about Active Travel. I love cycling and I am happy to tow my children around in their bike trailer. But my wife, who actively competes in cycling competitions, is scared to cycle on our streets and doesn’t and so our Saturdays now regularly consist of a race into town with my wife on a bus, and me cycling with the children.
“I know from friends and residents that this is a common story amongst our community. And to me this is the great benefit of the Active Travel Scheme - it will enable these members of our families, neighbours and residents to start take to the streets and roads with confidence - helped further by the huge growth in e-bikes and scooters.
“A little over 100 days since the Clean Air Zone came into effect, we are again this evening demonstrating as a Lib Dem Administration that 2021 is the year of action as we seek to rebalance the way in which we travel around our area and tackle the great challenges of pollution, the climate emergency and improving our health and wellbeing.”